by Halina Cardini, Agile Coach, ERNI Switzerland
Agile is one of today’s great buzz words. But what lies behind the trendy term that leads to 124 million search hits on Google in 0.53 seconds? And how can teams, including non-IT, work and organize themselves in an agile way? As part of my consulting activities, I was able to coach our internal recruiting team on its way to an agile work organization. Here is my short introduction to the core elements of agile work performed as an interactive workshop.
Buzz words are omnipresent today, especially in everyday business life. This can quickly lead to misunderstandings as we tend to understand different things under a certain buzz word. Thus, especially for an introduction to a new topic, it can be very helpful to get an overview of the buzz words with their background, boundaries and similarities. For these reasons I start my introduction to agile working with a mind map based on the participants associations when thinking about agile / agility. The outcome is a tag cloud composed of buzz words in connection with “agile”.
- Get an overview of the buzz words and visualize them with the cloud of buzz words.
- Enrich the workshop with the already known buzz words (show connections, show background, differentiate to other buzz words, …).
- As a moderator, you will gain a rough idea of how much prior knowledge and expectation the participants have, as well as the context in which they move.
- It represents an interactive start that encourages the participants to think for themselves.
- The participants reflect their own associations and get to know the associations of the team members.
Agile in a cone
The interactive start is followed by an input about the key elements of working agile. A visual summary of the key elements that I successively complete accompanies the verbal explanations. The result is an overview picture of the explained content, which I simply call the agile cone (see picture below). By enriching the explanations and facilitation with previously collected buzz words, this teaching part receives an individual note tailored to the participants prior knowledge. To keep the participants active, I invite them to ask questions at any time, as well as to stand-up for this input and build a circle around the flipchart. To sum up, the explanation of the agile core elements by means of a continuously refined visualization on the flip chart is ideal for placing a clear focus on the core statements and creating a visual summary of the content at a glance. Getting creative is worth it, since the participants are much more likely to remember.
– Complete the picture step by step while explaining the core elements of agile work verbally. Ideally, the moderator should make a reference to the buzz words introduced by the participants at a suitable point.
– For advanced users: the visualization can be supplemented with further background information. In the example this was done by means of a historical digression about experiences with big bang / waterfall approaches for the implementation of IT projects, as well as by pointing out parallels to other concepts/methods.
Put into practice
To facilitate the shift from the newly gained knowledge into practice, the workshop ends by presenting some common use cases of other teams’ ways of working agile. This was accomplished by presenting the Scrum framework, as well as by showing some actual examples.
Introducing a team to agile principles can be done in an interactive and creative way. Also for non-IT teams working agile features some interesting elements. Ideally, the introductory workshop is followed by an elaboration of the team’s needs & vision, an analysis of the current situation and a first concept of working agile tailored to the team’s needs. It’s a pleasure to coach a team in developing their ideal way of working agile, to be part of the never-ending learning journey and to witness some of their light-bulb moments!
Charlotte Sladek, Recruiting, ERNI Switzerland
Within Recruiting, we wanted to get more acquainted with the agile methodology, how to use our resources more efficiently and to present results visually. Based on different partial topics we wanted to get on the same level of understanding of the existing recruiting process. We wanted to see more clearly what stages the candidate goes through within the hiring process. A better definition of responsibilities should help us to reach our goals also in regard to the People Office. Our workshop took 2 hours, was very interactive – with almost no theoretical part, as Halina – the workshop leader – transferred the theory packed in practical exercises to us. Every piece of knowledge was immediately put in interaction. Halina uses a playful way of methodology. Especially, I was impressed by how Halina tuned into the vibes of the participants. She did listen carefully to the pain points, did moderate the workshop very well and there was no second that would be boring. We have used the time fully and left the workshop with positive tips for the daily work. From the agile methodology, we already are using the KANBAN methodology – and further, we are implementing the visualization and digitalization in recruiting across the teams. This we were able to implement at the end of 2018 and received good feedback from all people units.